Internal Revenue Service Cybersecurity Compliance
If you’re a private-sector entity contracted by the Internal Revenue Service, IRS, or eyeing a contract with the federal agency, this resource is for you! As you may be aware, IRS rolled out specific cybersecurity guidelines that all organizations handling Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information must comply with.
The goal is to compel vendors and suppliers to safeguard any federal information or protected personal data that they receive from the agency. As an IRS contractor, you’re required to implement cybersecurity protocols like accountability controls and audits and acquire the most advanced IT systems and devices for secure maintenance, storage, and handling of SBU data. Plus, the agency expects you to have the right professionals and capabilities to maintain and monitor your IT systems, eliminating cyber threats.
So the big question is, how can you implement all the IRS cybersecurity compliance requirements as efficiently as possible to avoid the dreaded penalties that result from non-compliance? This white paper shares the top ten actionable tips for trouble-free compliance with IRS cybersecurity guidelines. So let’s get down to business!
Top 7 Tips for Cybersecurity Compliance with IRS Guidelines
Classify all Systems that Access SBU Information
The first step to complying with IRS security standards is making a list of all the SBU data that your organization stores, handles, or transmits. You also want to classify all the programs and information systems that the SBU tax information goes through.
Some contractors usually assume that professional-grade tax software is the only system that needs a security assessment since it’s often at the center of an IRS-contracted project. But nothing could be further from the truth. There are several other systems like reporting and file storage solutions that you should be keen to classify and scrutinize, as they’re also a part of the workflow. Making a record of these information systems is vital in determining the extent of your compliance obligations.
Sort the Systems According to the Data they Access
In the first step, you’re required to list all IT systems that access SBU data. Now it’s time to narrow the systems down by classifying them based on the types of sensitive information they touch. These could be information that qualifies as SBU like Protected Health Information (PHI), Personally Identifiable Information (PII), or Federal Tax Information (FTI).
You also want to classify systems that touch investigation info, enforcement procedures, case section methodologies, specific procurement information, etc. And the third classification should be for systems that interact with live data, i.e., production data currently in use. While at it, you want to be careful because once the data gets extracted for testing or development, it’s no longer live and can’t get classified as such. But overall, the entire classification process is critical in determining which specific systems your entity uses to access various SBU data.
Check out Examples of Audit Logs
Preparing comprehensive and up-to-date audit logs for all your listed information systems is usually one of the most challenging parts of IRS cybersecurity compliance. However, you can have an easy way through it by referencing previous IRS audit records. In particular, you want to check out such characters as:
- Timestamps for all logged activities
- Event logging of verification activities (credential changes, logging in/out)
- In-session activities (actions undertaken while the user’s logged in)
- Reporting features that permit the transfer of all logged activities
Implement Professional-Grade, Routine Training
Providing the necessary education and promoting awareness among your staff and contractors is essential to equip them with proper knowledge about IRS cybersecurity compliance. Satisfying all the IRS security requirements is a collective effort. As such, your employees must become well versed with the cybersecurity terminologies frequently used during compliance, best practices for protecting SBU data, systems that access SBU info, etc.
The best IRS cybersecurity compliance training program should cover critical topics like incident response, security awareness, contingency, disclosure awareness, among others. What’s more, organizations should make the training a routine, say annually, to keep employees updated with the right skills and knowledge for meeting security and compliance needs.
Understand the Details of IRS Publication 4812
The IRS publication 4812 is a comprehensive resource providing all the details for effective handling and protection of SBU information and systems. We recommend going through the Publication to understand what the agency expects from its contractors as far as complying with cybersecurity standards.
In particular, you want to focus more on the Background and Purpose sections. They discuss valuable topics like the IRS’s right to access your site within a 48-hour notice. Further, you’ll learn how you may be time-bound to remediate any cyber risks that the IRS detects during the assessment.
Inquire About Previous Information Disclosures
You may be spending lots of time and resources streamlining and protecting SBU data and systems, only to be pulled back to square one by previous unauthorized information disclosures. That’s why it’s overly critical to know if your organization disclosed any unclassified information illegitimately or erroneously before the compliance process commenced. This is necessary to save the organization from getting penalized.
Establish a Secure Record Keeping System
An automated record-keeping system is a vital cybersecurity compliance tool that you should keep throughout the process. The system must include all records of info that qualify as SBU like FTI, PII, and PHI. In addition, you. should also keep records of information regarding access rights to the SBU data and all documents linked to the said records. And according to IRS, all contractors should keep these records for at last five years before discarding them.
Mathe Inc. is Your No.1 Rated IRS Cybersecurity Compliance Firm!
Let’s face it; complying with IRS cybersecurity standards isn’t child’s play. It takes time, cybersecurity expertise, and commitment to satisfy all IRS requirements within the set timeframe. Unfortunately, most organizations lack the right experts to complete the process in-house. And the ones available already have business-centric responsibilities to undertake.
Thankfully, you can partner with a reliable and competent cybersecurity consultant like Mathe Inc. to take care of all your IRS compliance needs. We’re a team of highly experienced and self-driven experts, and we apply the most advanced solutions and resources to provide time-efficient, skill-based, and cost-effective cybersecurity compliance services.
So feel free to get in touch with our experts, and let us lift the IRS compliance weight off your employees’ shoulders!
With over 35 years in the business of supporting and implementing technology for the SME market, and 6 years previously in Corporate IT and Voice. I have seen a great deal of change. The only common thread is I have always focused on the Business Wise application of Technology. We always try to look 5 years ahead of the current technology to make sure our clients are on the right track to meet current and future needs.